Whenever we think of investing a new pair of Bluetooth headphones, the number one thing that we consider is either price or sound quality. There’s hardly things that gets you the best of both worlds, and the Sonic Gear Airphone V is the Bluetooth headphone that gives you good sound quality at an affordable price.

The Airphone V

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We aren’t sure why Sonic Gear has come up with such a product name, anyone would think that it got its name from Apple’s iPhone. The Airphone V is Sonic Gear’s latest product and the first Bluetooth headphone with call functionality. At first impression, the design looks just like a Beats headphones, just that you won’t find the “b” logo on both sides of the earpiece.

The glossy plastic makes the headphone look striking, and we love that though it can get scratched in the long term if not kept properly; additionally, there’s no way that we are able to keep the headphone properly as Sonic Gear doesn’t include a pouch in the packaging and the headphones aren’t designed to be compacted for safe keeping. And finally, there is no wired connectivity available, how we seriously wished that the microUSB port can be plugged into our PC for use instead merely for charging, which will be sweet if we can also use it as our Skype microphone.

The Airphone V has the following specifications:-

Driver size: 40mm
Frequency response: 20-20KHz
Impedance: 32 OHM +-15%
Sensitivity: 120dB/nW+-15%
Maximum input power: 20MW
Bluetooth: v3.0+EDR, supports HSP,HFP,A2DP, and AVRCP
Battery Life: Music playback up to 10 hours and phone call up to 11 hours, 250 hours standby
Voice instructions on power and pairing status

The Music Playback Test

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We tested the Airphone V with a variety of devices – the ASUS TAICHI, iPad, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and Sony XPERIA Z1. Though you may expect more or less the same experience across all of them, they do have some differences in sound quality. We tested sound quality using MP3 tracks with 320kbps constant bit rates stored on our devices and streaming extreme quality music from Spotify. Here are the songs that we mainly listened on throughout the test.

Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger (Song A)
Lady Gaga – Applause (Song B)
Psy – Gentlemen (Song C)
T-ara – Sexy Love (Song D)
张学友-离开以后 (Song E)
范玮琪-最重要的决定 (Song F)

ASUS TAICHI

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Our ASUS TAICHI running on Windows 8.1 has no issues pairing with the Airphone V and doesn’t require any driver installation. The TAICHI is running on a Broadcomm Bluetooth 4.0 chip and it outputs good bass in all songs and lacks clarity. Song A’s drum thumping is good however the singer’s voice isn’t bright enough, instruments also lack the fidelity it should have while Song C has a better experience as it is mostly on bass.

iPad

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Our iPad has almost similar listening experience as the ASUS TAICHI, to be fair, we tested with the equalizer switched off and we enjoy listening to Song A, C and D as it produces clear bass, however we hope for more highs in the music and the only way to do so is to play around with the equalizer, which is only available for the built-in iPod music player. Additionally, you’re able to see the battery status of the Airphone V on iOS devices

HTC One

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The HTC One has a hardware audio amplifier and Beats Audio software enhancement built in, and is enabled on every app and audio input devices paired with the device. With Beats Audio enabled, all songs played brighter sound and bass, which makes you think that you are still on a wired headphone, though it’s still lossless. Song B’s chorus will be able to tell you that experience. Switching off Beats Audio enhancement gives you a terrible listening experience.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

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The smartphone that won 5 stars in our review works well with the Airphone V, audio clarity is there on all songs and bass isn’t too strong as well with equalizer disabled. We recommend pumping up the volume of the Note 3 to have a better listening experience as the volume doesn’t seem strong. Overall, clarity is one of the notable things that you will hear on the Galaxy Note 3 with the Airphone V, song E and F will tell you the result.

Sony XPERIA Z1

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Our waterproof flagship Sony smartphone here takes the crown in the music playback test, it may not sound too well on wired headphones, it sounds really great on the Airphone V. With ClearAudio+ enabled, we are able to experience clear bass and highs, which is what most people want in their music listening experience, and best of all, ClearAudio+ is also enabled in every applications that outputs sound.

Call quality and battery life

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Due to the soft sponge on the earpiece and on top of the headphone, we really enjoyed using it to make phone calls, call quality is good and callers have no issues hearing our voice. Best of all, the headphones feel sturdy and doesn’t feel like dropping easily.

We used the Airphone V mostly for music listening for an average of one hour per day and switching between devices due to review purposes, we are happy to report that our Airphone V lasted about 8 days before requiring a charge, which almost sums up to the rated 10 hour usage, and we are impressed with it.

Verdict

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Sonic Gear’s Airphone V is fantastic, never before we’ve seen a budget Bluetooth headphone priced below RM200 that is able to produce decent audio quality and gorgeous battery life. We think that the Airphone V could do better in terms of design, storage and wired connectivity, for the price of RM169, you would expect some of these features to be available. The Airphone V comes in Black, White, Red and Yellow, we rate the Sonic Gear Airphone V at 4 out of 5 stars. As usual, a summary of good and bad below.

The Good:
+ Good battery life
+ Decent sound quality
+ Affordable price tag
+ Voice instructions can be useful
+ microUSB port for charging

The Bad:
– Plasticky
– Earpiece unable to twist to compact the headphone, causing storage problem
– No wired connectivity
– microUSB merely used for charging